Flawless, massive bluefin tuna washes ashore on Orcas beach

Dr. Joe Gaydos received unexpected news in the early morning hours of July 11.

A near-perfectly preserved 100-pound Pacific bluefin tuna had washed ashore on Crescent Beach.

“It was beautiful. It’s a new record for the Salish Sea,” said Gaydos, the SeaDoc Society’s science director.

According to NOAA, most of the U.S. catch of Pacific bluefin tuna is within about 100 nautical miles of the California coast. They are “highly migratory and travel long distances throughout the Pacific Ocean” and are found mostly in temperate ocean waters but also in the tropics and cooler coastal regions.

Bluefin tuna has never been scientifically documented in the Salish Sea and its origins and cause of death are currently a mystery.

SeaDoc staff transported the fish to the public dock in West Sound where collaborators at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs picked it up. Dr. Adam Summers and other staff will perform a necropsy.

“It’s kind of ironic to find a species new on the same day that the definitive ‘Field Guide to Fishes of the Salish Sea’ was released,” laughed Gaydos.

The book is written by T. W. Pietsch and J. W. Orr and illustrated by J. R. Tomelleri and Gaydos’ review of it can be found at: www.seadocsociety.org/blog/field-guide-fishes-of-the-salish-sea.

“You won’t find bluefin among the fishes in the book, which is a great reminder that there’s always something new to learn about our shared ocean,” said Gaydos.